Booktopia SF 
& Fantasy Buzz
June 2009 | Edition Two
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WELCOME TO THE JUNE SF & FANTASY BUZZ!
It is impossible to get bored writing about speculative fiction. Science fiction and fantasy provide such fertile ground for the imagination and allow authors and readers to create and explore our world and others in so many different ways that there is always something new and interesting to catch the attention. Writers can, quite literally, play God with their creations, fixing the parameters of their universe to shine a light on human nature in a way not possible in other genres.

The possibilities are infinite and it is no surprise that there are varieties of SF & Fantasy to capture the imagination of everyone. In this newsletter you will find a selection of the best new SF & Fantasy from around the world and I have tried to cater for as many different tastes as possible. Some of the highlights include the new Anita Blake and Sookie Stackhouse novels, a masterpiece of lyrical fantasy from Greer Gilman and the exciting debut novel from Mark Charan Newton.

Look out for Stephen Hunt's new steampunk adventure and the concluding volume to Russell Kirkpatrick's award winning Husk trilogy. If you do nothing else make sure you also have a closer look at Kate Griffin's seriously good new work of urban fantasy.

You can also find reviews of the latest Star Trek and Star Wars releases, gaming novels and DC Comics.

Congratulations also to Gretel Mann, the winner of our Gollancz Space Opera Competition. Gretel will now receive a complete set of the Gollancz Classic Space Opera Series.

And don't forget, every book featured in this newsletter is AT LEAST 20% OFF! So what are you waiting for? Get reading!

Richard Bilkey
Booktopia SF & Fantasy Editor
RICHARD'S BOOKS OF THE MONTH
FANTASY BOOK OF THE MONTH

NIGHTS OF VILLJAMUR by Mark Charan Newton

With a lengthy ice age looming, the imperial city, Villjamur, is beset by refugees, desperate to find sanctuary from the freezing weather. But the city can only support so many and access is strictly controlled by the councilmen. Shelter in Villjamur is no guarantee of safety, however, as death is a tangible presence within the city: banshees wail over the newly dead; half-human, half-vulture garudas patrol the town from the air; and blood beetles and other scavengers feed indiscriminately on the dead and the dying. There are rumours of the walking dead in the ice wastes to the north and the sobering reality of the growing refugee camps outside the city walls. And, overshadowing all of this, there is the inescapable destiny of a dying red sun.

Mark Charan Newton has identified Nights of Villjamur as 'dying earth fantasy' and it owes much to the ideas of authors such a M. John Harrison and Gene Wolfe. Newton takes the dying earth motif further, however, weaving together mythology, magic, technology, necromancy, immortality and many other concepts to look at death from every conceivable angle. Dark subject matter, perhaps, but Newton's vivid style and thoughtful plotting ensure that he escapes the merely morbid to create a very compelling and utterly absorbing story of survival.

The narrative shifts quickly from character to character, building a strong picture of the entire city and keeping the action moving swiftly. The  style also changes to suit the characters, adopting variously the tones of crime noir, military adventure, political thriller, horror, casual fiction and a more erudite, philosophical dialogue. This technique might have become distracting but Newton uses it to good effect, distinguishing the characters and bringing the multifaceted Villjamur to vivid life.

Nights of Villjamur is the first book in the Legends of the Red Sun Trilogy and, like all first books, a number of the threads are left hanging and unconnected. But Newton has assured readers that all the characters are linked in some way and, with such impressive debut novel under his belt, there is little doubt follow up books will also be compulsive reading.

Click here to buy this book

Click here to read an excerpt from Nights of Villjamur


SCIENCE FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH

THE EMPRESS OF MARS by Kage Baker

Ahh, Mars! Science fiction’s oldest and most reliable other-world. From H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs to Kim Stanley Robinson and Dan Simmons, Mars' proximity and similarity to Earth has invited authors to imagine a near future of exploration, colonisation and terra-formation. Like many authors before her Kage Baker imagines the first wave of colonists to the red planet, but she has a light touch with the hard-science that allows the characters and plot to develop freely.

Xenobiologist Mary Griffith is one of many who can’t pass up the British Arean Company’s (BAC) offer to start a new life as a colonist on Mars. But BAC soon realise that their Martian venture is not financially feasible and the colonists are left largely to fend for themselves. Mary turns her biological expertise to something more productive (brewing beer) and opens the first and only bar on the planet. Her fledgling establishment, 'The Empress of Mars', serves as loci for the stories of a motley crew of colonists: the ice hauler Brick; the rambling Heretic; the Italian rogue Vespucci; the conman Stanley Crossley; and a lawyer determined to break BAC's control over their lives.

Early on in the book Kage Baker lulls us into a false sense of familiarity with her comfortable pub setting and the well-worn Martian backdrop - it almost feels like an episode of Cheers on the Tharsis Bulge. You know these characters and the roles they are playing but it's not until Vespucci arrives, with his enthusiasm for spaghetti Westerns that the comparison is made explicit.

"Oh, here we go ..." I hear you sigh, "another space Western. Been there, done that, joined the Brown Coat fan club."

Stick with Kage Baker here, though, because nothing she writes is ever as it seems. She has a gift for tight, intricate plotting and thoughtful character development that makes for a beguiling, constantly surprising read.

Fans of Baker's Company series will be glad to know that this story is set in the same milieu, though for now it seems to be a stand alone story. The Empress of Mars is actually based on her Hugo Award-nominated novella of the same name and the extra development she has put into it is well worth it. Pure enjoyment at only 0.38G.

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NEW SOOKIE STACKHOUSE AND ANITA BLAKE
These two paranormal romance series have so many devoted fans that I feel like mentioning them here is more a public service announcement than a book review. Dead and Gone is the 9th Sookie Stackhouse novel and Skin Trade is the 17th Anita Blake story, so if you've followed them this far you don't need me to tell you what fun they are to read. Even so, here's a short synopsis to help get you in the mood ...

DEAD AND GONE   SKIN TRADE
Charlaine Harris

Sookie's just your typical telepathic waitress trying to earn a living and make sense of her love life — no easy task if you tend to attract vampires, werewolves and shape shifters. And it seems things are only going to get more complicated.

The local weres and shifters have decided to follow the vamps lead and declare themselves openly to the human world. All seems to be going well until the mutilated body of a were-panther is found. Sookie knows the victim and of course can't help getting involved, particularly considering the implications it has for her own were-panther brother.

But there are more revelations about Sookie's family that will turn out to be far more dangerous. As she learns more about her own fairy heritage she soon finds herself an unwilling human pawn in a war between beings far more ancient than vamps, weres or shifters.

Full of action and danger, Dead and Gone also brims with Harris' trademark wit and, of course, romantic tension. Of course, True Blood, the TV series based on Sookie Stackhouse began screening in Australia on the Showcase channel in February. You can browse the new TV tie in jackets here.

Click here to buy this book

Click here to read the first chapter
 
Laurell K. Hamilton

Skin Trade
sees a return to the supernatural detective formula that established Anita Blake as the iconic urban fantasy heroine. Anita's ever growing list of powers has complicated her character and the plots became dominated by the  more romantic and erotic elements. Some may disagree with me but I think the series lost its balance for a while there.

That's why, for me, Skin Trade is the best Anita Blake book  since the early days. It's no coincidence either that only one character from the recent books makes an appearance. Still erotically charged, but freed from an increasingly constrictive tangle of relationships and politics, Hamilton has created a wonderful little thriller reminiscent of the first books in the series, Guilty Pleasures and The Laughing Corpse

When a vampire serial killer sends Anita human heads to taunt her, she goes to Las Vegas to confront him. Joined by three other Federal Marshals, including Edward, she soon finds herself in the focus of attention from Las Vegas' various paranormal communities, all of whom want her for different reasons.

Laurell K. Hamilton has done a great job keeping this complex series vibrant for so long and Skin Trade will only re-invigorate fans even more.

Click here to buy this book
AN INCREDIBLE NEW WORK OF LYRICAL FANTASY
CLOUD & ASHES: THREE WINTER TALES

Greer Gilman

Fantasy is, in many ways, the most faithful of all literary genres to traditional storytelling, maintaining clear links with the mythical to help explore the deeper mysteries of the human condition.

Magic Realism authors like Salman Rushdie and Gabrielle Garcia Marquez weave ancient myth and  traditional folklore into contemporary stories, providing "new" perspectives on modern life. Other authors, such as J.R.R. Tolkien or Ursula K. Le Guin, create entirely new worlds that give free rein to folklore, allowing the reader to escape the prejudices of the familiar and act as an objective observer of the human condition.

To act as more than mere escapism, however, fantasy literature must present a culture internally consistent with all aspects of its world and its people. Language is perhaps the most important component of culture and one of the most effective tools an author can use to transport readers into their alternative universe. Most modern fantasies offer only exotic sounding proper nouns and a handful of twisted colloquialisms and it is rare to find an author with the ability to develop and build a truly original linguistic structure to support their story.

Greer Gilman is such an author and perhaps one of the most talented linguists writing in  any genre today. Her new book, Cloud & Ashes: Three Winter's Tales,  recalls James Joyce for its playfulness and inventiveness, mining the Yorkshire vernacular in particular  in her creation of a mythical realm called 'Cloud'. The two short stories and the novella contained within Cloud & Ashes each centre around Cloudish winter myths, based largely upon Celtic traditions such as the death and rebirth of the winter king. Like Tir na nÓg, Cloud is a land of pure myth and these stories are to be read as such, like the symbols on a pack of tarot cards.

Cloud & Ashes is an incredible achievement, a work rich with word play and potent symbolism. Whether you delight in unravelling multi-layered meanings in a text or if you simply enjoy the floating sensation of allowing richly figurative language to wash over you and carry you along, Cloud & Ashes is a book you will turn back to again and again.

Click here to buy this book

Click here to read an informative interview about Cloud & Ashes 

NEW SCIENCE FICTION
RISE OF THE IRON MOON   ORPHAN'S TRIUMPH   SEEDS OF EARTH: HUMANITY'S FIRE BOOK 1
Stephen Hunt

The third  stand-alone Jackelian  World novel, if I hadn't already fallen in love with the series I would still have bought this book purely for the jacket. How could any serious steampunk fan resist?

Orphan Purity Drake is on the run from the Royal Breeding House. She meets a man who claims to be an escaped slave from the Army of Shadows, an invading force marching towards the Kingdom of the Jackals. Facing defeat the Jackelian King and  the steammen try to forge an alliance with the Republic of Commonshare. But their only hope might lay with young Purity Drake and her mysterious friend.

Rise of the Iron Moon
is more ambitious in scope than the previous books, The Court of the Air and The Kingdom Beyond the Waves, and it suffers a little by comparison. But the action soon picks up and the last 50 pages in particular are steampunk adventure at its absolute greatest.

**This book is out of stock with the publisher, Booktopia expects to have stock by August 2009, click below to pre-order.**

Click here to buy this book
  Robert Buettner

Jason Wander has risen from humble foot soldier to Lieutenant General of the United Human forces in their war against the relentless slugs. And, after 40 years of war the endgame is in site.

Orphan's Triumph is the fifth and, final instalment of Buettner's hard hitting military science fiction series. Originally intended as an homage to Starship Troopers, the Jason Wander series has become a fascinating exploration on the compromises and personal sacrifices of leadership. The rise from war hero to military leader has not come without either for Jason Wander as every decision he must make must be weighed against the long term survival of the human race.

Buettner writes with a great sense for both the political and human consequences of war and he doesn't hold any punches in this cliffhanging conclusion. This is a series that needs to be read in order so if you are looking for strong military SF go back and start with Orphanage and work your way through.

Click here to buy this book
  Michael Cobley

Seeds of Earth is the first volume in a debut space opera trilogy with a lot of promise.

Following Earth's rushed evacuation in the face of the invading Swarm, three colonist ships head off to different parts of the galaxy in a desperate attempt to keep the spark of humanity alive. One colony settles successfully on the planet Darien, making peace with the native inhabitants and laying the foundations for civilisation.

But when an envoy arrives, claiming to be from the Earth they once thought was lost, the  remote Darien colony is dragged into a confusing game of galactic politics. And there are the stirrings of ancient secrets from Darien's past that the indigenous race refuse to talk about. 

Seeds of Earth has all the elements of great space opera: a sprawling canvas, political intrigue, strong characterisation, and  an original new vision of the universe and humanity's place in it.

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NEW FANTASY
THE EDGE OF THE WORLD   BEYOND THE WALLS OF TIME: HUSK BOOK 3   THE OWL KILLERS
Kevin J. Anderson

One of the most prolific and widely read authors of modern science fiction today, Kevin J. Anderson has embarked on his first voyage into the world of fantasy. The Edge of the World is a clash-of-civilisations naval fantasy that explores the endless futility of holy war and religious fanaticism.

A treaty has just been signed between the Tierrans and the Urabans, promising a new age of peace between the two nations. But a tragic fire in the shared sacred city of Ishalem awakens age old suspicions, kindling the flames of a holy war that can only escalate with every new skirmish.

The perspective switches between a well selected host of characters on both sides of the conflict. As the tides of war begin to sweep up their lives, the reader is given great insight into how religious conflict perpetuates itself even when the political will for peace is present.

Anderson's prose is easy to read and, though a bit slow to get going, the twisting fates of his characters will have you turning the pages faster and faster. The Edge of the World is Book One of the Terra Incognita series.

Click here to buy this book
  Russell Kirkpatrick

The third and final  book in the award winning Husk trilogy.

Maps have become a somewhat ubiquitous feature of epic fantasy but are often amateurish and add little to the reading experience. Russell Kirkpatrick is, however, a professional cartographer and his first series, the Fire of Heaven, grew from the exquisitely detailed maps he had made of a fantasy world.

The Husk/Broken Man trilogy is Kirkpatrick's second fantasy series but the impressive maps within were created after the story unfolded so the characters and the plot could develop more freely. It is a small distinction but the result is a darker, more complex and compelling story.

Fantasy (and science fiction) is at its most powerful when an author is in complete control of their world and uses it to create situations that test human nature to its extremes. In this way the Husk trilogy stands out as epic fantasy of the highest standard. Kirkpatrick's intuitive understanding of  the light and shade of human conflict is brought to the surface by the  best traditions of epic fantasy story telling.

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  Karen Maitland

OK, I'll admit that this isn't technically a fantasy novel but the genre police are kill joys and a thumping good pagan thriller is always worth a look. If you've read Karen Maitland's cracking first medieval novel, The Company of Liars, you'll know what I mean.

The Owl Killers
is not a direct sequel but it is based in the same period and is linked by one character to The Company of Liars. It is set in 1321 in a fictional village called Ulewic, governed by a pagan cult calling themselves the Owl Masters. When a group of religious women from Bruges set up residence nearby they are treated with suspicion that quickly turns to superstitious fear as  a number of mysterious calamities lead to accusations of witchcraft and heresy.

Like The Company of Liars, the attention to historical detail and the author's careful empathy for the beliefs and world view of all her characters gives this novel a rich texture that lends the rising tension and ultimate conclusion all the more impact. This is a powerful, atmospheric look at medieval conflict between lingering pagan beliefs and the growing Christian faith.

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NEW URBAN FANTASY
THE MADNESS OF ANGELS
  MAGIC IN THE BLOOD   THE SPY WHO HAUNTED ME
Kate Griffin

Kate Griffin is a pseudonym for author Catherine Webb who's first fantasy novel, Mirror Dreams, was published when she was only 14. A Madness of Angels is her first adult fantasy novel and compares favourably to the early works of China Miéville and Neil Gaiman.

It is set in a London coursing powerfully  with urbanised  magic - the magic of graffiti, possessed phone lines and mystic bag ladies. Sorcerer Matthew Swift is resurrected after his death at the hands of a shadow creature in the guise of his former mentor Mr Bakker. Gaining his bearings he soon begins a mission of vengeance against his killer, who he names Hunger.

This book encapsulates all that is exciting about  urban fantasy. Griffin's London is a magical world free from the tired old mythical clichés. It  literally crackles with its own gritty, electric power.

Click here to buy this book
  Devon Monk

This is only the second  Allie Beckstrom novel but already the signs are there for a long-running series with a loyal fan base.

The premise is simple enough: In a world where magic is used as casually as alcohol, Allie Beckstrom has a rare talent for tracking spells back to the magician who cast them. She's what's known in the business as a 'hound' and in the business of magical law enforcement, hounds are vital.

But using magic doesn't come without its costs. Like alcohol, magic  will give you a vicious hangover, or worse. Allie learns this the hard way when her memory is lost after her own magic backfires. Now, as she tries to piece together her own past, she has to figure out all over again who she can trust.

With some great  central characters and a racey style, this is great entertainment.

Click here to buy this book
  Simon Green

Eddie Drood is the James Bond of the paranormal. International shaman of mystery and super-sleuth of the supernatural.

Back for his third adventure in the sharp-witted Secret Histories series Drood is drawn into a competition devised by the legendary agent Alexander King on his deathbed. King wants a successor to pass all of his knowledge to and invites the best spies in the world to prove their worth. When King hints that he knows who the identity of the  traitor in Drood's family, Eddie has to take the chance.

Originally planned as a trilogy, the popularity of the James Bond parody has lead Simon R. Green to extend the series further. Green's ability to dissect pop culture with his cynical wit has made him one of the world's most loved comic SF and fantasy authors, such as Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt and the late great Douglas Adams.

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GOLLANCZ SPACE OPERA SERIES *IN STOCK*

As mentioned in the May SF & Fantasy Buzz, Gollancz has this month released a  beautifully selected collection of classic SPACE OPERA novels with fantastic new jackets. Space opera is known for its high standard of writing and willingness to tackle large themes on an epic scale and has become one of the most popular forms of modern speculative fiction.

The term Space Opera was coined by writer Wilson Tucker to describe the clichéd pulp science fiction stories of the 1930's-60's. You know the type, flying saucers, ray-guns and an infinite variety of little green men. Like the wild American West, deepest darkest Africa and the exotic orient, space became a new frontier to be explored and sheriffed by intrepid and incorruptible heroes like Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and Captain Kirk.

Authors like Poul Anderson kept the best elements of space opera alive until the 1970's when it rebelled against the 'triumph of mankind' theme to become a vehicle  for  the exploration of contemporary social and moral issues. Intrinsic to this was a focus on strong characterisation, high literary standards and a return to realism.

Tau Zero (1970), Ringworld (1970), Rendezvous with Rama (1973) and (perhaps most notably) Centauri Device (1975) were key novels in the re-invention of space opera and are the cornerstones on which current authors such as Alastair Reynolds, Paul McCauley, Dan Simmons, Greg Bear and Adam Roberts have built upon.

I would like to make special mention of Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon. It is often overlooked when considering space opera simply because it was written so far ahead of its time. Released in 1930 Last and First Men anticipates all of the key features of modern space opera. Arthur C. Clarke declared "No other book had a greater influence on my life". Its impact on modern science fiction cannot be underestimated and if you are looking for the seminal space opera novel, this is it.



THE BEST YOUNG ADULT FANTASY




THE SORCERESS




 

LOST: THE MAGIC THIEF BOOK 2


Michael Scott

The Secrets of Immortal Nicholas Flamel is a series that caught my imagination from the very first chapter and has held it ever since. Michael Scott has taken a clever and playful concept and turned it into an exciting, action packed story that has appealed to children and adults alike.

To sum up the backstory, the Elder race (the old gods of world mythology) are still alive, banished to their shadow realms since the iron age. Most accept their fate benignly but others look forward to a time when they might take control of the Earth and rule over humanity once again. The secret to their resurrection is a book, guarded by the immortal Nicholas Flamel.

But the Dark Elders have their own immortal agents on Earth and when the Magician Dr John Dee makes his attack a pair of young twins get caught in the magical crossfire. Under Flamel's protection it gradually becomes apparent that the brother and sister might the be the twins foretold by prophecy to decide the fate of the Elders once and for all.

With six books planned in the series, each new instalment sees additions to the cast of mythological gods and human immortals - famous historical figures who continually add flavour and interest to the story.

The roller-coaster plot never stops. You find yourself racing from chapter to chapter as the action unfolds - and you may even learn some interesting history along the way...

Click here to buy this book
  Sarah Prineas

Following on directly from The Magic Thief, we find  young Conn, the former pickpocket turned wizard's apprentice, no longer able to communicate with the living magic that powers the city of Wellmet.  The loss of his locus magicallus means that he must find another way to talk to the city's magic.

Meanwhile sinister shadows are manifesting throughout the city, turning anyone they touch to stone. And the city's magic seems to be growing weaker. In desperation, and against his  master Nevery's instructions, Conn experiments with pyrotechnics, certain that he can hear someone, or something, talking to him after every explosion. What he hears sounds like a warning, telling him to leave Wellmet.

He finds himself on the road to the desert city of Desh where Rowan, the daughter of the Duchess, has been sent as an envoy to seek help about the problems plaguing Wellmet. But something is wrong in Desh and soon Conn and Rowan are face to face with a powerful evil. Conn faces other shadows too as his despair at being unable to help his friends in Wellmet threatens to overwhelm him.

Written for the younger end of the YA market, the charming characters, the wry humour and the imaginative plotting allow this book to be enjoyed by magic lovers of every age. The books are also beautifully designed and illustrated making them a real treat for young and old.

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TREKKIES AND JEDIS
STAR TREK VANGUARD:
OPEN SECRETS
  STAR WARS:
THE CLONE WARS:
NO PRISONERS
 
Dayton Ward

Star Trek Vanguard is based in the same time frame as the original series, taking place on a space station in "The Taurus Reach". The station officially operates to help colonists across this vast gap in interstellar space. But it has a secret mission to research "The Taurus Meta-Genome", a strand of super DNA discovered in the region.

Open Secrets is the fourth Vanguard novel and certain threads within the story are beginning to overlap cleverly with the original Star Trek series, providing clues to the history of The Wrath of Khan in particular. For example, the scientist working on the DNA is Dr Carol Marcus mother to Kirk's son David. Her research seems to be the basis of the Genesis Project.

With the possible exception of the below par second book, Vanguard is an increasingly fascinating and exciting series which will reward fans of the original TV shows and movies.

Click here to buy this book
  Karen Traviss

OK, I'll admit to being a little confused by much of the Clone Wars series. It's just a bit too disjointed for me to stay up to speed with. That being said, there are always some interesting back stories to flesh out and No Prisoners has some good insight into  a few characters that fans should find interesting.

The major focus is on a young Gilad Palleon, the man who would later become Supreme Commander of the Imperial Fleet and forge a peace with the New Republic. This look into his formative years give us a good indication of the pragmatic leader he will become and reveals many of his earliest impressions of the Jedi Order.

Callista and Ahsoka are also given more welcome attention. Callista's love of machinery is explained in more depth. It is a little creepy actually. And Ahsoka was  a delight as her Togrutta heritage was brought to life in a way that the Clone Wars movie failed to do.

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FOR THE GAMERS...

HALO: CONTACT HARVEST
  DOOM 3: MAELSTROM
Joseph Staten

Going right back to the very first contact between humans and the aggressive alien empire known as the Covenant, Contact Harvest is the definitive back story to the entire Halo universe.

Written by one of the Halo game designers, Contact Harvest also contains a huge amount of fascinating technical, biographical and historical info that must have been dreamed up as background information for the original game. How do slipspace drives work? What goes on in the mind of an AI? And of course, why do the Covenant want to exterminate humanity?

This is quite different to previous Halo novels but works well and is a gold mine of information.

Click here to buy this book
  Matthew Costello

The second Doom 3 novel, following Worlds on Fire, we pick up the action on Mars, where John Kane, recently busted down to Private, has been sent on a regulation security mission.

He arrives to find the station in chaos, however, as Mars based scientists unwittingly opened a portal to the demon dimension. With half the station's population turned into zombies and worse, and the survivors scattered, Kane and fellow survivor Maria realise they must find an object known as the Soul Cube if they are to close the portal in time to stop the second wave.

Meanwhile more experiments are continuing back on Earth, which can only end badly.

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THE LATEST DC COMICS
SUPERMAN: BRAINIAC

Geoff Johns with Gary Frank

There have been a few recent incarnations of Brainiac but Geoff Johns and illustrator Gary Frank have really stepped up here to re-create a truly cold and calculating villain that will surprise and  even shock Superman devotees. There is also some great back story with Supergirl and the scenes in the Daily Planet and with the Kent family are perfect. This is a short but densely packed Superman adventure that won't disappoint with either its story or its visuals.

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SUPERMAN: THE COMING OF ATLAS

James Robinson with Renato Guesdes and Jack Kirby

This is a little stand alone story between Braniac's return and the rise of New Krypton. With some nice cameos from Supergirl and The Green Lantern, Superman faces a battle with the long forgotten Titan Atlas. The God of mythology has been sent by an unknown foe to challenge and destroy Superman. Suffering initial defeat, he suspects magical interference and decides to fight fire with fire. A strange but nonetheless entertaining diversion from the main Superman storyline. It will be interesting to see if James Robinson follows this up and uncovers the mystery villain behind the attack.

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2008'S BEST SF NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK
THE GONE-AWAY WORLD
  TEMPORAL VOID
  PRINCIPLES OF ANGELS
Nick Harkaway

My stand-out favourite SF debut for 2008. The Gone-Away World is inspired madness, twisted and cynical then bubbling with energy and wonder. It reads like an unholy union of Joseph Hellar and Douglas Adams with a plot that jumps out and screams "Boo" in your face then runs away giggling to shock you again.

The second quarter of the book is all necessary set-up for the second half of the story but it is worth sticking with it because the ending is an absolute cracker. 

Click here to buy this book
 
Peter F. Hamilton

The second book in the Void Trilogy, which takes place within  the Commonwealth Universe, some 1200 years after Judas Unchained.

This is one of those series that, unless you have been with it from the start, you won't be able to understand fully. I heartily recommend going back to Pandora's Star so that you can fully appreciate the intricate world Hamilton has created.

Click here to buy this book
  Jaine Fenn

Space Opera has been a little corner of SF that has, up till now, been dominated by male writers. It has been waiting for some female authors to crack the sub-genre open and take it in new directions.

Jaine Fenn's debut novel is a good start, mixing up elements of fantasy with the usual space opera tropes. It is far from a perfect book but her universe is well thought out and has plenty of promise. Her next novel, Consorts of Heaven is due in July and already previews are suggesting it is a stronger book.

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2008'S BEST FANTASY NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK
SONG OF THE SILVERCADES
  THE BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS
  MONSTER BLOOD TATTOO:
LAMPLIGHTER
K.S. Nikakis

A beautifully written follow up to the debut epic fantasy The Whisper of Leaves from the new Australian talent, K.S Nikakis.

Golden eyed Kira has been forced to flee from her embattled homeland on a mercy mission to seek help from a warrior tribe in the north. But the dangers of her journey require her to place her faith in a man that she doesn't entirely trust.

Click here to buy this book
  Shannon Hale

There is no other way to say it: this is truly a very special book. This re-telling of a largely forgotten Grimm's fairy tale is one of those books that stays in your heart your entire life.

Written in the form of a diary, it is the story of a maid locked in a tower with a princess who refused to marry the prince she was betrothed to. The young maid is one of the great female characters of young adult literature and I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Click here to buy this book
  D.M. Cornish

I am in awe of the world D.M. Cornish has created. An illustrator by trade, the story grew from sketches of monsters he had made over the years.

But what really surpirsed and enchanted me was his lyrical and whimsical use of language. The names and dialects are an absolute pleasure to read and have stuck in my mind even months afterward. There is a musical quality to his writing that asks to be read aloud, bringing the entire story to vivid life. And what a story! Do yourself a favour and immerse yourself in the hypnotic Monster Blood Tattoo series.

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Click here to browse these books in audio format
   
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In This Issue

Books of the Month

Sookie Stackhouse

Anita Blake

Literary Fantasy

New SF

New Fantasy

New Urban Fantasy

Classic Space Opera

New YA Fantasy

Trekkies and Jedis

Halo and Doom 3

DC Comics

Best SF in Pb

Best Fantasy in Pb

Bestsellers

Interview with Richard Harland

July Preview

Featured Author: Neal Stephenson

LINKS

June Booktopia Buzz

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May Food & Drink Buzz


What's After Twilight?



BESTSELLERS

Here are the big movers and shakers in the world of SF & Fantasy. Click on the titles below for more information.

TWILIGHT SERIES
Stephenie Meyer
IN STOCK
PRIDE & PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES
Seth Grahame-Smith
IN STOCK
THE LEGEND OF SIGURD AND GUDRUN
J.R.R. Tolkien
IN STOCK
THE SELECTED WORKS OF T.S. SPIVET
Reif Larson
IN STOCK
THE ASK AND THE ANSWER
Patrick Ness
IN STOCK
ANATHEM
Neal Stephenson
CITY OF GLASS: MORTAL INSTRUMENTS 3
Cassandra Clare
IN STOCK
THE ADAMANTINE PALACE
Stephen Deas
TURN COAT
Jim Butcher
CORALINE
Neil Gaiman
INTERVIEW WITH RICHARD HARLAND

The author of the great new young adult adventure, Worldshaker, generously agreed to an interview while he was in town for the Sydney Writer's Festival. We talked about his inspiration for the book, the writing process and the phenomenon of steampunk.

Click here to listen to the interview

Click here to buy this book

COMING UP IN JULY
China Mieville's new noir detective story is urban fantasy at its very best while master story teller, Ursula K. Le Guin, has adopted one of Virgil's side characters, Lavinia, and re-written The Aenid from her perspective.

Jaine Frenn's second space opera novel combines many elements of fantasy while Russian author Max Frei inserts himself into a brilliant but  disturbing urban fantasy.

Joe Abercrombie's
fourth novel is the runaway fantasy bestseller this month in the UK and Kelley Armstrong's next Darkest Powers book is dominating the YA charts in Britain.

Click on the links below to pre-order these books:

THE CITY & THE CITY
China Mieville
LAVINIA
Ursula K. Le GUin
CONSORTS OF HEAVEN
Jaine Fenn
STRANGER: LABYRINTHS OF ECHO BOOK 1
Max Frei
BEST SERVED COLD
Joe Abercrombie
THE AWAKENING
Kelley Armstrong
FEATURED AUTHOR
Neal Stephenson

This is a mainly self-
indulgence on my part. Over the past month I have been entirely enthralled by Anathem and hoped that by mentioning it in this newsletter, I could justify all the time I spent reading it as productive 'research'.

Like many of his other books, Anathem is at once an entertaining adventure and also a guide book to 5,000 years of scientific and philosophical enquiry. Stephenson's ability to tell gripping stories that communicate highly refined ideas is matched by very few authors (Umberto Eco and Iain Pears are good examples).

From his early cyberpunk thrillers to the sprawling enlightenment era Baroque Cycle, Stephenson's books are always able to fire the imagination and intellect equally. If this appeals to you I can only recommend you clear your schedule and get stuck into the titles below:

ANATHEM
Neal Stephenson
THE SYSTEM OF THE WORLD
Neal Stephenson
THE CONFUSION
Neal Stephenson
QUICKSILVER
Neal Stephenson
CRYPTONOMICON
Neal Stephenson
THE DIAMOND AGE
Neal Stephenson
SNOW CRASH
Neal Stephenson